They're not the biggest cetaceans in the sea, but there are still plenty of reasons to love beluga whales. The aquatic mammals are known for their playful nature, pale coloring, and impressive vocal abilities. Now, fans of these whales can livestream their annual migration from the Arctic Ocean to the Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada.
As Thrillist reports, Polar Bears International's beluga cams went live on Explore.org on Friday, July 15 to coincide with Arctic Sea Ice Day. The organization's research boat Delphi has been outfitted with two live cameras: one on deck filming the water's surface and a lower camera recording the action underwater. Belugas use dozens of distinct calls for communication and echolocation, and a hydrophone on the vessel will pick up their vocalizations.
The Hudson Bay has plenty of the food belugas love to eat without too many of their larger predators, like orcas, lingering around. It's inaccessible in the winter, but when the waters thaw in the summer months, approximately 57,000 whales swim to the Churchill River in Manitoba, which flows into the bay. Polar Bears International has streamed the journey in years past, but this year's footage is shot using brand-new, upgraded equipment. You can tune in to the live videos below as the whales continue their migration through the remainder of the season.
The Arctic conservation non-profit Polar Bears International launched the livestream on Arctic Sea Ice Day to raise awareness of melting polar ice due to climate change. Though belugas are considered a species of "least concern" according to the IUCN Red List, the survival of other Arctic animals that rely on sea ice is uncertain. In addition to providing entertainment for nature lovers, the footage captured aboard Delphi will be used to monitor the health of the migrating population.